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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

Followers of the Way and the Inner Challenge of Western Society

Updated: Jul 7, 2019

Western society has lost its way to such an extent that many of God’s people are struggling to know what it is to be a faithful follower of Jesus and how to live out their faith in the second decade of the twenty-first century. The inner breakdown of society involves more than economics or politics, although it is evident in both these facets of life. In Australia, the Banking Royal Commission has revealed the extensive nature of the corrupt practices employed by the banks to rip off their customers and the moribund nature of the entire banking system. The banks are more concerned about with making huge profits than they are about either the well-being of their employees or service they provide to their customers. Almost daily we are confronted with new revelations that outdo the corruption of the previous day. What is true of the banks is also true of various other companies and once respected institutions? We periodically hear of restaurants, franchise companies, and brand-name stores that have underpaid their employee’s thousands of dollars. Many ordinary working people haven’t had a pay rise in five years or more while the executives of the companies in which they work are receiving millions of dollars in bonuses even in low-profit years. Also, the whole economic system prioritises profit over people to the detriment of our communities.

The political world is no better. Countless people are rightfully disillusioned with the state of politics and the political parties on offer not only in Australia but also around the world. Where are the great political leaders of the past with a long-term vision and the political fortitude to see things through? All we seem to get from our politicians; these days are sound bites and three-word slogans. They appear to spend more time tearing each other apart than they do presenting meaningful coherent policies. Policymaking seems to be done on the run or in a reactionary manner instead of thoughtfully thought through and extensively developed. The focus is on getting themselves elected or re-elected instead working toward the long-term benefits of nation-building and the well-being of their constituents. Many people believe that politicians cannot be trusted, and they dislike the political-speak they employ to evade answering pertinent questions. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to be positive about the politics in the post-truth world of Donald Trump were fake means true and so-called truth means lies. It is all very depressing.

As I have previously stated this inner breakdown is much deeper than the breakdown within our economic and political systems. It is a breakdown at the deepest level of our shared humanity. It is a breakdown of faith, spirituality, and moral fortitude. Something has collapsed there, and the outer collapse is merely an outward expression of the more serious inner collapse within our society because the whole outer expression of life rests upon the inner expression of life. Consequently, women and men are an island unto themselves following their version of the truth. They live a separate kind of existence accountable no one else but themselves, because they leave God out of the equation, or they reject God’s very existence. Subsequently, nothing is certain any more, and everything is awash on a sea of doubt and uncertainty. Everything is fluid, and the ground under our feet seems very unstable. Fluidity, doubt, and uncertainty are impacting both our personal and societal lives in many ways. This affects not only the realm of economics and politics but also those of truth, epistemology, and worldview; gender, sexuality, and identity; and family, society, and interrelationality, etc., etc. As followers of the way, we are called upon to be deeply suspicious of the many changes that are taking place in our society during this period of our history. And yet we also need to be open to critically reexamining our long-term views on a whole variety of issues, which confronted us, while remaining committed to Jesus Christ and his lordship over our lives. We must faithfully reexamine the Scriptures and the longstanding traditions of the church on these issues. In doing so, we must remain true to our conscience and continue to seek the mind of the Holy Spirit. However, what we must not do is to buy into the spirit of our age in which we live uncritically.

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